[vegan, palm oil-free, refined sugar-free; gluten-free option available]
It was my husband’s birthday yesterday. No round years, not that that would make much of a difference anyway. He’s never been one for expensive gifts or extravagant celebrations. This year, our daughter gave him Hama bead figures she had made and helped me bake a marvelous vegan marble loaf cake. They were enough to make her dad’s special day special. So special, in fact, that my husband called the present “so sweet” and the cake so good that they were best kept to ourselves!
The Gift of the Marvelous Vegan Marble Loaf Cake
I usually skip buying my husband a birthday present, as that’s his wish. But I do bake some sort of a cake each year. This time around, I asked him if there was a specific celebratory cake he’d like for me to bake. He wanted me to make Butterfinger bars. Out of everything I’ve made, they’re his number one favorite.
In addition to homemade Butterfingers, he’s partial to peanut butter cups, my peanut butter and chocolate chip cubes, and homemade Oreos and Snickers bars, of course. He’s used to getting (or being made!) to taste all sorts and kinds of bakes of mine. He’s not much of a test taster, though, because he always seems to like everything. Either he really likes everything or he’s just being overly careful not to hurt my feelings.
Whichever the case, he’s not tough to please. He does like everything. That’s why I decided to ignore his birthday wish and make him something more sophisticated, instead. Like a cake, for example. I came up with the marvelous vegan marble loaf cake, because I thought that it fit the bill. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s totally easy to make.
The Mother Daughter Baking Duo
Our firstborn is now a preschooler, and she’s started to get into baking. Needless to say, that makes me really happy. We’re quickly becoming a real baking duo, making the most out of our sweet escapes. She jumped at the chance this time, too, ready to join me in the kitchen as my sidekick.
She prefers snazzy, bold bakes with bright colors, a lot of details, and a fun catch to them. Out of what I’ve made, she’s loved the over-the-top double chocolate cookies and inside-out blondies the most.
With this in mind, it didn’t come as a surprise that she immediately fell for my marble cake idea. She made the choice easy, and so we just got to it. With a pair of skillful and careful helping hands, making the marvelous vegan marble loaf cake proved even less time-consuming than I had expected.
The Unexpected Easiness of the Marvelous Vegan Marble Loaf Cake
When you’re working with a little helper, you tend to gravitate toward easy recipes that proceed from A to B logically. There can be many steps on the way, but it helps if they’re not ones that require world-class baking skills. Otherwise, there’s a risk for your little helper losing interest at an early stage.
My daughter was unexpectedly focused this time. She held the utensils with steady hands and listened to my instructions attentively, wanting to know more about baking. Undoubtedly some of her focus was due to the fact that the cake we were baking was for her dad.
Another unexpected thing was the easiness of the recipe. What separates the marvelous vegan marble loaf cake from other similar zebra cakes is that you start by making just one batter. For example, with my tiger brownies, preparing two batters separately is what makes the recipe the most laborious.
In this recipe, you’ll get that dark, chocolatey color for half of the batter by adding melted vegan chocolate to it. The cake pictured here was made with about half of a Tony’s Chocolonely dark chocolate 70% big bar. With this method, the chocolate batter will be slightly thicker than the light batter, but I find that it works just perfectly here. As an added bonus, you’ll get just the right rich taste of real chocolate, which I don’t really think cocoa powder achieves. The end result is a wonderfully delicious and marvelously beautiful cake!
Vegan Marble Loaf Cake
- 1 ¾ cup whole wheat or spelt flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ⅔ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup aquafaba i.e. chickpea brine
- ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsweetened almond drink or other plant drink or water
- ½ cup dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or oil and flour it.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and coconut sugar until no lumps remain. Add the canola oil, aquafaba, unsweetened applesauce, vanilla extract, and almond drink. Mix the batter with spatula. Scrape the bottom of the bowl carefully so that you don't leave any flour unmixed. Pour half of the batter into a medium bowl.
- Melt the dark chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour the chocolate sauce into one of the bowls and combine. The chocolate batter will turn thicker than the light one, but this is fine.
- Pour the batters in the loaf pan one tablespoon at a time. Start with the light-colored batter and add a spoonful of the chocolate batter on top of it. Keep going like this until there is no batter left. The batters will spread on their own, creating a beautiful and unique pattern in the pan. You don't need to spoon or press them, as they will continue spreading in the oven.
- Bake on the center rack for 45–55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan. The cake will be even more moist, if you refrigerate it overnight. Remove the cake from the loaf pan. Slice into 12 equal slices and serve!